Written by: Adelaide Wickham, undergraduate Marine Biology student, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
When someone asks me what I do at University and I respond saying Marine Biology, the reaction is always one of intrigue and fascination. Possibly it is not the most obvious degree course to choose, so what made me do it?
My interest stemmed from a family holiday in Western Australia where I toured a pearl farm near Broome on the North West coast. I was fascinated to learn about the processes involved in creating cultured pearls, and I enjoyed being given the opportunity to handle and examine oysters and see at first hand the different stages. This visit had a lasting impact as it confirmed my love for marine life and inspired me to consider a career in marine biology. I was only young at this stage and had previously wanted to be a doctor, a journalist, a teacher amongst many other options, so I am not sure my parents truly believed this would be my final career choice. However, the decision stuck and I couldn’t be happier with it – even if my friends have labelled me a “fish freak”!
The marine environment is where the modern world is turning to explore for new substances to help in the treatment and cure of diseases. As the world faces increasing demand for energy and food, I feel the importance of understanding the marine world is greater than ever before, and I am excited at the prospect of working in such a growth area where so much remains undiscovered. What can be learnt from the study of Marine Biology could make a real difference to human existence on so many levels, and where better a place to start than seaweed!
There is already a wide range of uses for seaweed, with researchers developing new ideas about how to utilise this abundant and sustainable resource. I feel the uses of seaweed could be almost limitless, and in a world where we are becoming more conscious of preserving our natural environment and reducing waste, the use of seaweed as a replacement for plastic packaging is particularly relevant. The potential is enormous and really exciting. I hope one day to be more involved in incorporating seaweed into our daily lives in a huge variety of ways.
On a more immediate level, perhaps the easiest way for you and I to reap the benefits of seaweed is by incorporating it into our diet. If, like me, your immediate thought is that seaweed is only to be found in Japanese cuisine and quirky health food shops, think again! Seaweed has many well documented dietary benefits, but it is increasingly being recognised as a delicious food in its own right. Now I am more “seaweed aware”, seaweed keeps popping up on my radar all the time! Only today I saw “Seaweed Thins” alongside more traditional biscuits to accompany cheese in my local delicatessen, and of course with the modern cook’s increasing use of oils instead of saturated fats, I have been given early access to the soon-to-be-launched range of Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful seaweed oils – which are a winner.
Seaweed is such a diverse resource – the history of seaweed use is in itself a fascinating study – from agricultural fertiliser and stock feed to health supplements, I feel we are on the brink of seeing seaweed appear on the menu as an everyday dietary staple – it is a fascinating journey for a natural substance which we have taken so for granted for so long. Personally, I feel very excited about the opportunities provided by seaweed and the innovative industry which is growing up around it. Who knows where it will lead us?
Come and see the exciting new launch of our Weed & Wonderful products at the Natural & Organic Products Europe Trade Show, 22nd – 23rd April, at stand 39!
Don’t hesitate to get in touch.